Introduction and Outline


Judaism’s central sacred texts are remarkably anymal-friendly. Jewish scriptures teach that God created a vegan world without bloodshed, a world of peace that we are told will come again to Earth. God remains invested in the wellbeing of all living creatures. Jewish sacred writings include anymals and have much to teach about human and divine relations with other species.

Photo courtesy of Israel21c.

Frame from Vegan Friendly’s TV ad, “Extra Fresh.”[iii]

There is always room for progress in the unfolding of human faith. Unfortunately, many Jews overlook the Biblical moral imperative for a vegan diet and some still practice a blood ritual of atonement. Fortunately, the lives and words of the prophets, as written in sacred texts, provide a model of holy activism, of working to bring change, and of walking a path that reflects Jewish laws, ethics, and religious ideals, and of encouraging others to do the same.

It is my hope that . . . the State of Israel will soon become a ‘light unto the nations’ (Isaiah 49:6) and pride itself, among other things, in having a moral and conscientious policy toward animals.

Asa Keisar, Rabbi, quoting Reuven Rivlin who was elected president of Israel in 2014iv

Core sacred Jewish writings are also sacred for Christians (who call these texts the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament). Muslims hold portions of Jewish scripture to be sacred as well, including the Torah (Tawrat/Tawrah—the first five books of the Tanakh: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) and Psalms (Zabur), which are particularly important to religious ethics and anymals. Importantly, the teachings of these scriptures thereby hold for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Photo courtesy of Cole Keister and Unsplash.

A bird on mount Masada at sunrise with the Dead Sea behind.[v]

When referencing and exploring core Jewish and Christian texts, this website uses the English translation generally preferred by scholars, which is the New Revised Standard Version.

Each religion acknowledges the preceding texts and draws from them, with differences of interpretation and emphasis. So Christianity inherits from Judaism, and Islam inherits from both Judaism and Christianity. In this way the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible and the Qur'an form one linked textual tradition . . . [and] Muslims refer to followers of all three religions as 'People of the Book'.

British Library[vi]

Woman laying in the hay with calf and chicken

Photo courtesy of Danielle Meiri and Pacific Roots Magazine.

Three friends relaxing at Freedom Farm, a vegan Sanctuary in Moshav Olesh, Israel.[vii]
  1. 4.1 Introduction and Outline
  2. 4.2 Anymals: Sacred Texts and Teachings
    1. Creation: Genesis 1 and 2
      1. Kinship: Sixth Day
      2. Kinship: Breath of Life
      3. Rulership in The Image of God
      4. Vegan Dominion
      5. Creation as Unified Good
      6. Duties Assigned by God
      7. Shared Purpose: Woman and Anymals
      8. Humility
    2. Creator
      1. Sole Proprietor
      2. Fully Invested—Compassionate and Attentive
      3. Nature/Habitat as good/holy
      4. In Covenant with Anymals/Earth
    3. Core Law/Ethics
      1. Not to Harm
      2. Compassion And Mercy
      3. Peace/Harmony
      4. Love
    4. Conclusion
    5. Featured Sources
    6. Endnotes
  3. 4.3 Diet: The Vegan Debate
    1. Genesis Diet
      1. Point:
        1. God permits the consumption of animals for food in Genesis 9, so there is no need to be vegan.
      2. Counterpoints:
        1. God strongly dislikes human violence, which is corruption.
        2. Omnivory and vegetarianism cause fear and dread.
        3. God reaffirms a plant-based diet by providing manna.
        4. Focus Point
    2. Sacrifice
      1. Point:
        1. Animal sacrifice is carefully described in scriptures and is indicated as pleasing to God.
      2. Counterpoints:
        1. Eating anymals is not justified by scriptural descriptions of anymal sacrifice.
        2. Does God delight in the smell of burning bodies?
        3. Scriptures also describe grain offerings.
        4. Bloodletting rituals were phased out and replaced more than 2000 years ago.
        5. Scriptures indicate that anymal sacrifice was not Jewish in origin, that these rituals were merely tolerated and were restricted by God, and are not currently permitted.
        6. Anymals are not ours to give.
        7. Focus Point
    3. Mitzvot
      1. Point:
        1. Eating meat allows fulfilling of mitzvot.
      2. Counterpoints:
          A vegan life fulfills many important mitzvot (and aids in the observance of food laws).
    4. Kosher
      1. Point:
        1. Anymal products are kosher.
      2. Counterpoints:
        1. Are they?
    5. Vegan Moral Imperative
      1. AMORE — Five critical reasons to choose vegan
        1. A nimals: Compassion, Mercy, Not to Harm
        2. M edical: Caring for Humanity
        3. O ppression: World Hunger, Labor, and the Isms
        4. R eligion
        5. E nvironment
    6. Conclusion
    7. Featured Sources
    8. Endnotes
  4. 4.4 Stories: Exploring Sacred Narratives
    1. The Donkey and Balaam from Numbers 22
    2. Calf, weasels, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi from Bava Metzia (Chapter 7, 85a).
    3. Conclusion
    4. Endnotes
  5. 4.5 Disquietudes: Traditions that Conflict with Teachings
    1. Kaporos
      1. The Ritual of Kaporos
      2. Disquietudes of Kaporos
      3. Alternatives to Kaporos
      4. Kaporos Summary
    2. Humility—A God-Centered Universe
    3. The Snake of Genesis 3
    4. Conclusion
    5. Featured Sources
    6. Endnotes
  6. 4.6 Activism: Ethics in Action
    1. Judaism as a Way of Life
    2. Being Holy
    3. Prophets Model Activism
    4. Jewish Anymal Activists
      1. Lewis Gompertz
      2. Dr. Richard Schwartz
    5. Conclusion
    6. Endnotes
  7. 4.7 Resources
    1. animalsandreligion.org flier

iii Courtesy of Leichman, Abigail Klein. “Why Israelis are Leading the Vegan Revolution.” October 22, 2020. Israel21c.

iv Rabbi Asa Keisar quoting Reuven Rivlin, taken from Schwartz, Richard. Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism. NY: Lantern Publishing & Media, 2021. 142-3.

v Courtesy of Unsplash.

vi “Faith: Books.” British Library. https://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/sacred/wfabooks.html

vii Courtesy of “Animal Advocacy & Sanctuaries: Israel: Middle East: Freedom Farm Sanctuary.” Pacific Roots Magazine. Sept. 4, 2019.